Health care advocates are expressing concern that Gov. Jerry Brown's (D) budget proposal for fiscal year 2012-2013 would negatively affect ethnic communities, the elderly, children and individuals with disabilities, New America Media reports (New America Media, 1/7).
The $92.6 billion spending proposal includes deep cuts to health and human services programs. The budget plan proposes cutting:
- $946.2 million from CalWORKs -- the state's welfare-to-work program -- by limiting the amount of time most adults could be on the program from four years to two years;
- $842.3 million from Medi-Cal -- California's Medicaid program -- by merging services for beneficiaries eligible for both Medi-Cal and Medicare;
- $163.8 million from In-Home Supportive Services -- which provides services for the elderly and people who are blind or have disabilities -- by eliminating domestic assistance for beneficiaries in shared living environments; and
- $64 million from moving children out of Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program, to Medi-Cal (California Healthline, 1/6).
Reaction to Budget Proposal
According to New America Media, individuals from ethnic and racial groups comprise about 60% of Healthy Families beneficiaries and 70% of Medi-Cal beneficiaries, and regions with high Hispanic populations would be especially affected by the proposed cuts.
Chad Silva, policy director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, added that the proposed cuts would harm access to care for low-income individuals.
Other health advocates question the governor's plan to shift 875,000 Healthy Families beneficiaries to Medi-Cal while trimming reimbursement rates to managed care providers.
Mike Oden, a health policy associate for Children Now, said, "It's alarming because it's a big change in a short period of time" (New America Media, 1/7).
Meanwhile, C. Duane Dauner, president of the California Hospital Association, said that the proposed budget cuts could create problems for California's elderly, individuals with disabilities and rural health clinics, which often operate with limited resources. Dauner noted that hospitals could face a loss of up to $86 million in combined state and federal funding for Medi-Cal (Barr, Modern Healthcare, 1/6).
Governor 'Makes a Strong Case' With Budget Plan, Editorial Argues
A Sacramento Bee editorial argues that in his proposed budget plan, "Brown makes a strong case that California needs to close [its] structural deficit once and for all and start paying down debt."
"On the downside, Brown is proposing some spending cuts and fund shifts that could run afoul of the law," the editorial notes, adding, "Cuts to Medi-Cal could hurt patients with serious disabilities, resulting in legal action that the state could lose."
The editorial concludes that "overall, [Brown] is making a serious effort to rid California of a fiscal albatross" (Sacramento Bee, 1/7).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of the governor's proposed budget plan are below:
- "Health Care Providers React to Jerry Brown's Medi-Cal Cuts" (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 1/6).
- "New Budget Hits Hardest on Children, Disabled, Poor" (Myers, "The California Report," KQED, 1/6).
- "New Calif. Budget Calls for 'Painful Cuts'" (Iverson, "Forum," KQED, 1/6).